Currently viewing the category: "Millipedes"

Subject:  Leggy in the mid Atlantic
Geographic location of the bug:  St George’s, Bermuda
Date: 08/13/2021
Time: 04:06 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Dearest Bugman,
I was hoping you could kindly identify this creepy crawler I spotted while in vacation in Bermuda. Caterpillar? Centipede? You know more intel that I could ever hope for.
How you want your letter signed :  Melanie on the Irish Chain

Millipede

Dear Melanie on the Irish Chain,
This is neither a Caterpillar nor a Centipede.  It is a Millipede.  The word Centipede has Latin roots and means 100 legs.  Similarly Millipede is Latin for 1000 legs.  Though the leg count is not accurate regarding the numerical values, the name difference is due to Centipedes having a single pair of legs per body segment while the Millipedes have two pairs of legs per body segment.  Millipedes do not bite, however, some species can give off a noxious gas that contains cyanide.  You may read about this on Cool Green Science where it states:  “Cyanide is so toxic to most living organisms that it was once thought that cyanide millipedes were running the risk of killing themselves each time released this secretion; that they must close off the openings that they use to breathe in order to survive. But scientists found that the millipedes are immune to cyanide — able to process it and convert it into harmless chemicals.”

mIllipede

Subject:  Hundreds of caterpillars
Geographic location of the bug:  Hershey, pa
Date: 05/04/2019
Time: 09:38 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  hi, I went out to my garden this evening around 9:30 and found these bugs walking all over my raised beds and up the walls of my house. I didn’t see any on my plants. they are small, very skinny about three-quarter inch to an inch long.What are they?
How you want your letter signed:  Skaterma

Millipede Invasion

Dear Skaterma,
These are not Caterpillars.  They are Millipedes.  Here is an Iowa State University article on Millipedes where it states:  “Millipedes are harmless. They can not bite or sting and they do not feed on structures, furnishings or landscape plants. They do feed on damp and decaying plant material and are ecologically beneficial as “recyclers” of organic matter. They live outdoors in damp areas such as under leaves, needles, plant debris, mulch and similar habitats.

The bad news is millipedes often embark on mass migrations, especially on humid, warm nights in the fall and spring, during which time they wander into garages, basements and other parts of the house. All millipedes found inside have strayed in by mistake from breeding sites in the vicinity. Millipedes can not reproduce indoors.
Millipedes are most active at night. They wander out from their damp hiding places and roam aimlessly, often covering large distances with their slow, steady crawl. They are not drawn to garages and houses nor are they searching for anything in particular (food, warmth, mates, etc.).
Wandering millipedes eventually bump into the house where they find small gaps or cracks. They crawl into these small openings as a shelter from the dryness of the coming daytime. Millipedes hide during the day under the bottom edge of the garage door, in cracks along the house, sidewalk or driveway and in gaps in the foundation. Openings in the foundation allow the millipedes to enter the house, where they continue wandering until they find a place to hide or until they expire from lack of moisture, coiled in the corners of a room.”

Subject:  Black and orange with yellow legs
Geographic location of the bug:  Williamsburg, VA
Date: 03/19/2019
Time: 08:01 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  My two year old came across this bug while picking up rocks. She touched it and ran back to me saying “ouch!” over and over. There is a red mark on her finger. I don’t know if it bit her or stung her or if it has a substance on it. We have found them in our yard before, but never touched them. She probably did not see it and just reached down for a rock. She is fine, but I can’t find a picture that matched exactly. When it unrolls it has a black “face” area. Thank you in advance for your help.
How you want your letter signed:  Worried Mom

Colorful Millipede

Dear Worried Mom,
This is sure a colorful Millipede, and though we are not certain of the species, we believe it might be
Semionellus placidus which is pictured on BugGuide and reported from Virginia.  Of the family Xystodesmidae, BugGuide indicates:  “Many are brightly colored and all have stink glands.”  We seem to recall that some Millipedes can release cyanide as a defense, but we will need to do additional research on that matter.  We do not believe this colorful Millipede poses a threat.

Subject:  Orange/yellow Millipede with green legs?
Geographic location of the bug:  Alamo, CA
Date: 02/27/2018
Time: 10:25 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Found this in our neighborhood creek after a rain with my 3 year old. Despite tireless google image searching I cannot find a millipede or centipede anywhere that looks like this!
How you want your letter signed:  Bri “mom” Schrader

Millipede

Dear Bri “mom” Schrader,
It appears that this individual has two pairs of legs per body segment, which means it is a Millipede.  Centipedes have a single pair of legs per body segment.  If you found it in the creek, if might be drowned and dead, which may have changed its coloration.  We searched the internet for California Millipedes and we found this interesting article on Myrmecos Blog that profiles a glow in the dark Millipede species,
Motyxia sequoiae, and that states:  “One nocturnal genus in this family, Motyxia, known only from California, does not display conspicuous coloration.  These millipedes do something even more remarkable—they produce a green bioluminescent glow at a dominant wavelength of 500 nm by way of a biological source of light in their exoskeleton.  Scientists have speculated that the emitted light could be a sexual signal to attract mates, or an aposematic warning glow to announce the presence of a cyanide-based chemical defense.”  There are also images on Anotheca so we are relatively confident we have identified your species.  We will be featuring your submission as our Bug of the Month for March 2018.

Thank you for your response! My husband sent my picture, but he got the story a little wrong. My daughter found it under a log near the creek in our yard. It was very much alive. Threw me for a loop. Have never seen a millipede that color!
Thanks again! So cool to know what it is!
Brilynn Schrader

Subject: Caterpillar ID
Location: Schoharie County NY
June 4, 2017 4:55 pm
I live in rural upstate NY. I’ve seen a couple of these hanging on tree bark. I initially think they are alive, but then I realize I’m looking at what seems to be an exoskeleton. Could you please ID it for me?
Signature: Dottie Mueller

Shell of a Millipede

Dear Dottie,
This is not a Caterpillar.  We believe they are the remains of dead Millipedes.  It is possible that they were preyed upon by Glowworms.  We do not believe they are the result of normal molting, but we would not discount that possibility.

Shell of a Millipede

Subject: Same as “Possible Hawaiian Centipede!?”
Location: Nokesville, VA
May 24, 2017 4:43 pm
My daughter & I were exiting a natural wooded trail in Nokesville, VA today (Northern Virginia), when she gasped & stopped at sight of this dragon-like creature. I shot a photo, then tapped it with a stick, & it fell apart into multiple segments sliding off its center. Gross!
It has been very wet here lately, so I thought–once researching this image–that it might not have survived due to our almost nonstop rain this spring, if it’s a desert centipede..! Seeing that another person found one just like ours in Fredericksburg is astounding! That’s only an hour south of where we found ours.
Signature: Lolly

Millipede Carcass

Dear Lolly,
This is NOT a Hawaiian Centipede.  You have discovered the remains of a native Millipede, possibly
Apheloria virginiensis based on this BugGuide image and according to a comment on that posting: “I’ve seen these here in southern VA; they were common where we lived in southern MD too. They are quite tame, and I have handled them many times without any problems. The cyanide secretion makes them smell just like marzipan! One day in MD I was walking thru the woods and came to a room-sized area of tall dead weed stems, and each one of the stalks had one of these millipedes curled up dead, on top of it. There were at least 50 of them. They had apparently all decided together that it was time to go, like a crustacean Jonestown. Very weird, spooky and sad.”  It should be noted however that Millipedes are NOT Crustaceans.  Perhaps your individual was preyed upon by a Glowworm.